GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Dodo is an extinct flightless bird. Its external appearance is evidenced only by paintings and written accounts from the 17th century. Because these vary considerably, and because only a few sketches are known to have been drawn from live specimens, its exact appearance in life remains a mystery, and little is known with about its habitat and behaviour Roughly the size of a swan, it was heavily-built, flightless and clumsy. Two species were known with certainty: the common dodo Raphus cucullatus from Mauritius which became extinct between 1665 and 1670, and the Rodriguez solitaire from the neighbouring island of Rodriguez, which died out around 1761. The dodo's numbers quickly dwindled following the arrival of humans to these isolated habitats. All but defenceless these birds were ill-equipped to cope with the new hunters and the competition from other introduced animal species. The Dodo achieved widespread recognition from its role in the story.
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